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Rahul finally to take charge

POLITICAL DELICACIES

Rahul to become ‘Working President’

Rahul Gandhi is all set to take charge of the party as Working President in the next AICC reshuffle, after the name of the President of India is announced some time next month. He has finally agreed on his mother’s insistence to take charge and shoulder responsibilities of the party, if not the government. After his defeat in UP, he was determined to carry on with his ‘mission UP’. However, Sonia Gandhi in view of her deteriorating health, has persuaded him to take charge. It is in view of this that he has started his all-India tours, beginning with Maharashtra and Karnataka. The AICC reshuffle is expected to be a major one. Mukul Wasnik, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Choudhury Virender Singh, Mohan Prakash, Vilas Muttumvyar, Gulchain Singh, Charak and DR Shandil are likely to be shown the door. Digvijay Singh and Hari Prasad are likely to be sent back to their respective states of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka as PCC chiefs. Mohan Prakash can also be sent to Rajasthan as PCC chief, Azad and Wasnik will, however, continue as ministers. Satyvrata Chaturvedi is likely to be made the new general secretary incharge of Uttar Pradesh. Vyalar Ravi has already made a quiet entry in AICC. He is now in charge of Andhra Pradesh in place of Ghulam Nabi. Many young ministers from the cabinet may also be given entry in 24 Akbar Road.


Ministers rush to fill Pranab-da's place

Even before Pranab Mukherjee moves to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the question has started making rounds happens to be: after Mukherjee, who? Aspirant ministers have already started lobbying for the lucrative portfolio that would be left vacant by Pranab-Da. Anand Sharma has been heard speaking and giving interviews on financial issues. Then, there are Chidambaram supporters going around taking his name as Dada’s successor, but his name is being ruled out because of the controversies trailing him. But the man to watch out for is Kamalnath. He is the senior most MP besides Vir Bhadra Singh. He is close both to Sonia lobby plus Ahmad Patel and the Prime Minister. Kamalnath is tipped to become the leader of the house with the finance portfolio. The names of C Rangarajan and Montek Singh Ahluwalia  may be the PM’s choice.


Will Congress flunk litmus test in Himachal?

After being defeated in three out of five just concluded assembly polls, the Congress is in for another litmus test. Congress has never lost the Mayoral Election of Shimla in HImachal Pradesh since 1986. But this time, when the HP will elect its only Mayor on 26 May, the Congress leaders of the state are keeping their fingers crossed. Infighting is expected to take its toll. The Coordination committee meeting chaired by AICC General Secretary Choudhury Virender Singh held last week failed to bring the warring state leaders on board. Anand Sharma walked out of the dinner hosted by the PCC sneering, 'Koi khana hai?' He had his food at Taj Hotel and flew back to Delhi in a chartered plane sponsored by his friend Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the chief minister of Haryana. Sharma, who is now a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, is said to be calling the shots. Madhu Sood, the Congress candidate in the mayoral election, is wife of a builder, who even has the support of the BJP chief minister Dhumal. She was given ticket against the wishes of Shimla’s only mass leader, Vir Bhadra Singh on behest of Anand Sharma and Kaul Singh Thakur. The Raja is unlikely to work for her victory, as his candidate Harish Janarthan was not given ticket. And for the first time the Congress is set to lose the election in a triangular fight against BJP and a strong communist candidate Sanjay.


Race is on for the fifth Rajya Sabha seat

As it becomes clear that Shobhana Bhartiya is unlikely to get a second term, the race for the fifth nominated seat in Rajya Sabha has intensified. While the first three seats have been reserved for Sachin Tendulkar, actress Rekha and Anu Agha, the fourth seat is likely to go to a scientist. The name of Anil Kakodkar, the former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, has practically been finalised.  However, the Congress high command is in a dilemma over which journalist should be given. Among the names in the reckoning are of Kumar Ketkar, Vinod Sharma, Alok Mehta but the front runners are Razdan of the PTI, Shekhar Gupta and T Venkatram Reddy of the Asian Age. The Congress rarely gives it to a working journalist. They only oblige the ‘maaliks’. As for Tendulkar, he was a Mukesh Ambani nominee; Anu Agha was Sonia Gandhi’s personal choice and Rekha was brought in to counter the Amitabh effect in the wake of the return of the Bofors controversy. Rekha was the choice of the Gandhi girl Priyanka.   


No one wants to nail Singhvi

The question being asked is why is the BJP so soft on the just ousted Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who resigned from the party post and chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Lok Pal Bill in the wake of his CD controversy. The buzz is that despite Arun Jaitley’s official announcement of raising the issue, it was eventually prevented by an emotional appeal in the name of Singhvi’s father, who was a well known BJP member. As a result the BJP has also resisted from moving a breach of privilege against Singhvi for misleading the house. Singhvi has taken leave from the Rajya Sabha on health grounds but he is seen actively bustling in and out of courts arguing the cases of his clients amounting to misleading of the house. When this question was asked to Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari, he excused himself from replying.   


Sanjay Dalmia back as Mulayam's strongman

Sanjay Dalmia is back in the reckoning on the political scene. Dalmia, an industrialist, who was pushed out of the close company of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party by Amar Singh, is now back to hold the flag for Mulayam. Heralding his return, Dalmia organised a show of strength at his 30 January Marg residence. Dalmia hosted a dinner in the honour of the SP’s Uttar Pradesh victory two weeks ago that was attended by both Mulayam and his son Akhilesh Yadav.  From the Congrerss front, it was attended by Chidambaram, Shiela Dikshit, Salman Khurshid and Karan Singh. BJP’S Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Maneka Gandhi were also seen at this party. Dalmia’s father Vishnu Hari Dalmia was a former president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. From the NCP, it was Devi Prasad Tripathi and PA Sangma and Sharad Yadav of JD(U) who made an appearance. If the buzz is to be believed, then the show of strength was a move to lobby for Mulayam as the President. Dalmia is also lobbying for a Rajya Sabha seat that’s left vacated by the death of Brij Bhushan Tiwari.
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